Wandering Around America One State at a Time – Wyoming

State 45:

Welcome to the last post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I have only featured 45 of our beautiful United States because our wandering has  never taken us to Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, Rhode Island or Vermont.

I will be featuring the states alphabetically. The next and final state of my series is

Wyoming

Wyoming became the 44th state on July 10, 1890. The Capital is Cheyenne.

 

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Welcome to Wyoming

The Wyoming welcome signs feature the copyrighted symbol of a Bucking Horse and Rider that has been used on Wyoming license plates since 1936. According to legend the Bucking Horse and Rider is based on the early 1900’s horse Steamboat, “the horse that couldn’t be ridden”.

My husband and I are huge fans of the Longmire mysteries by Craig Johnson. I’ve read all of them except his latest The Western Star (I’m on the waiting list at the library). Set in the small fictional town of Durant in Absaroka County somewhere near Sheridan and the Montana border, the stories feature Sheriff Walt Longmire and a wonderful cast of characters. With beautiful descriptions of Wyoming and the Bighorn Mountains, page turning mysteries, and great dialog Johnson’s books are hard to put down. Boy Howdy!

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Bighorn mountains in Wyoming
Storm over the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming
Storm over the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park is the world’s first national park and is one of the most popular national parks in the U. S. The national park covers over 3,000 square miles. We spent several days exploring and as we drove through the park we stopped to explore the geysers, natural formations, hot springs, rivers, waterfalls, lakes and so much more.

Yellowstone is famous for it’s wildlife. Huge bison herds roam freely through the park and often stop traffic. Elk and many other animals are frequently seen.

If you love waterfalls you won’t be disappointed in Yellowstone.

Our time was limited in Grand Teton National Park but we were able to take in the majesty of the spectacular landscape.

On one of our trips we left the Black Hills of South Dakota and traveled into Wyoming to see the Devils Tower. As we drove along we could see the tower jutting up from the prairie. Our campsite at Devils Tower KOA had a great view of the tower.

As we took a hike around the base of the tower images from the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” popped into my head. There were climbers on the tower and some had made it all the way to the top.

We enjoyed our stay at Peter D’s RV Park in Sheridan on our way to Alaska in 2013 so much that we stopped there again on our return trip. With a view of the Bighorn mountains, a historic town to explore, and dinner at the Wyoming Rib and Chop House it was a worth a return visit.

On our return trip from Alaska, we drove south from Sheridan through the high plains where we saw ranches, several herds of pronghorn antelope, and prairie dogs beside the road. We spent a night in Casper, Wyoming at Ft. Caspar RV Park where we visited Fort Caspar on the North Platte River.

 

To read previous posts about the states featured in this series just click on the state name: Alabama      Alaska      Arizona      Arkansas      California      Colorado     Florida      Georgia      Hawaii        Idaho  Illinois      Indiana      Iowa     Kansas     Kentucky     Louisiana     Maine     Maryland     Massachusetts     Michigan     Minnesota    Mississippi     Missouri     Montana     Nebraska     Nevada      New Hampshire     New Mexico      New York     North Carolina    North Dakota      Ohio     Oklahoma     Oregon     Pennsylvania    South Carolina     South Dakota     Tennessee     Texas     Utah     Virginia   Washington     West Virginia     Wisconsin

Wandering Around America One State at a Time – Washington

State 42:

Welcome to the next post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I hope you will enjoy coming along for the ride!

I will be featuring the states alphabetically. The next state in my series is

Washington

Washington became the 42nd state on November 11, 1889. The Capital is Olympia.

Our first journey through the state of Washington began when we crossed the state line from Idaho heading west. After a quick night in Spokane we drove across the plains of south east and central Washington. On both sides of the highway were fields of sweet corn, alfalfa, potatoes and spearmint. Later in the day the flat land changed to rolling hills.  We stopped at the Columbia River Gorge for a look before crossing the river.

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Columbia River Gorge
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Columbia River Gorge

After another quick stay at a campground outside of Seattle, we drove through Olympia and began our journey on Hwy 101 to the Olympic Peninsula. For many miles we traveled along the Hood Canal before arriving in Port Angeles to explore Olympic National Park.

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Hood Canal beside Hwy 101

A drive to the top of Hurricane Ridge was the first thing on our agenda. It was sunny when we started the ascent up the winding road but it wasn’t long before the snow started coming down. When we arrived at the top the snow was deep and there were snow boarders and cross country skiiers enjoying the snow. The view of the mountains was spectacular.

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Driving through snow on the road to Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park
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Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park
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Deer beside the road on the way to Hurricane Ridge
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On the way back down we stopped for a view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca with Canada on the other side

Another day we drove by Crescent Lake on the way to the Hoh Rain Forest. When we arrived at the National Park entrance we were disappointed to find it closed. After making a few purchases at a small store a few miles from the entrance we found out there was a trail head just outside the park so off we went to explore the trail. There had been a big storm the previous year and there were many trees down.

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Crescent Lake
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Hiking in the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park
Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park, Washington
Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park, Washington

After our hike, we passed by a field with Roosevelt Elk on the drive back to the campground.

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Roosevelt Elk in Olympic National Park
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Roosevelt Elk in Olympic National Park

Dungeness Harbor was nearby so one night we went for dinner at the Three Crabs (the restaurant is now closed). There was a great view of the New Dungeness Lighthouse and were able to watch the sun go down.

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New Dungeness Lighthouse
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Sunset at Dungeness Harbor

Leaving Port Angeles in our rear view mirror we continued our journey through Washington on Hwy 101. As we drove south along the coast we caught our first glimpses of the Pacific Ocean. Hoping to find a parking space big enough for our truck and fifth wheel, we turned off the highway into a parking area at Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park. Success! It was a little tight but there was space to park and turn around to get back to the highway. After going down a short path to the beach we enjoyed our first walk beside the Pacific Ocean.

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Our first view of the Pacific Ocean was Ruby Beach
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Ruby Beach
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Ruby Beach

We continued down the coast to our next stop, Cape Disappointment Sate Park on the Long Beach Peninsula. It quickly became one of our all time favorite state park campgrounds. Our site was spacious with with a path behind the site. Inside the state park there were trails to explore, beautiful beaches, two lighthouses, magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean from high atop cliffs, and a Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. The first order of business to walk down the path and we were thrilled to step out onto a beautiful beach with a view of the North Head Lighthouse.

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I loved this view of the North Head Lighthouse as we walked out on the beach from the trail behind our campsite
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A short trail behind our campsite at Cape Disappointment State Park led us to this beautiful beach
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Sunset at Cape Disappointment State Park
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High above the Pacific Ocean at Cape Disappointment State Park
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Boat washed up on the beach at Cape Disappointment State Park

Lewis and Clark first spotted the Pacific Ocean while is the area and there is evidence of the their presence in and out of the state park. We learned a lot about their journey at the excellent Interpretive Center in the state park.

We explored some of the nearby towns and beaches on the Long Beach Peninsula. We ate our fill of local seafood at some of the restaurants in the area. Blondie loved running on the dog friendly beaches.

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Blondie loved the dog friendly beach at Long Beach

We loved the two lighthouses at Cape Disappointment State Park.

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North Head Light
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Cape Disappointment Lighthouse
Cape Disappointment Lighthouse
Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

Our first Washington adventure ended when we crossed the Columbia River into Oregon. Several years later we returned to Washington on our return trip from Alaska. After a couple of nights in Orroville just south of the border from British Columbia our route took us past more beautiful scenery and the Grand Coulee Dam.

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Driving along in northern Washington after our trip to Alaska in 2013
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Near the Grand Coulee Dam
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Grand Coulee Dam

To read previous posts about the states featured in this series just click on the state name: Alabama      Alaska      Arizona      Arkansas      California      Colorado     Florida      Georgia      Hawaii        Idaho  Illinois      Indiana      Iowa     Kansas     Kentucky     Louisiana     Maine     Maryland     Massachusetts     Michigan     Minnesota    Mississippi     Missouri     Montana     Nebraska     Nevada      New Hampshire     New Mexico      New York     North Carolina    North Dakota      Ohio     Oklahoma     Oregon     Pennsylvania    South Carolina     South Dakota     Tennessee     Texas     Utah     Virginia

Wandering Around America One State at a Time – Utah

State 40:

Welcome to the next post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I hope you will enjoy coming along for the ride!

I will be featuring the states alphabetically. The next state in my series is

Utah

Utah became the 45th state on January 4, 1896. The Capital is Salt Lake City.

As we drove through Utah exploring national and state parks the scenery was spectacular. There were red sandstone cliffs and hoodoos, multicolored striped mesas, white cliffs, red slick rock, arches and balanced rocks, canyons carved by river water, and twisting narrow highways with steep grades.

We had our first views of Utah as we entered the state from the southern border with Arizona.

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Red Canyon

Our first Utah destination was Bryce Canyon National Park. After setting up camp at Ruby’s Inn we headed to Bryce to take an afternoon drive through the park. Just a few overlooks later our drive was cut short as the rain started coming down. By the time we got back to our campsite the rain was coming down in buckets. With better weather the next morning we returned to Bryce for some more views of the red sandstone formations called hoodoos.

As we traveled on scenic Utah Highway 12 from Bryce Canyon to Torrey we stopped for lunch at Kodachrome Basin State Park.

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Henry and Blondie are standing at the base of this hoodoo in Kodachrome Basin State Park
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Kodachrome Basin State Park

After lunch we continued to Torrey. The narrow highway climbed upward with several 8% and a couple of 10% grades. We were both happy when we arrived at Sand Creek RV Park safe and sound. There were no other campers in the park and our site had a great view of red cliffs and mountains.

The next morning we left the camper in the campground to make the 20 mile round trip scenic drive through Capitol Reef National Park.

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Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park (Utah)
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Capitol Reef Petroglyphs

Traveling on Highway 24 from Torrey to Moab the scenery changed from red cliffs to all white cliffs to grey and gold mesas near a town called Luna Mesa.

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Driving through Luna Mesa on Highway 24 we felt like we were on the moon

Portal RV Park in Moab was our home for a few days while we toured Arches National Park,  Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, and enjoyed several  Moab restaurants.

We made several visits to Arches National Park and went on a few short hikes. I have a terrible fear of heights and was hesitant to do the Delicate Arch hike because there is a section where the trail is very narrow and high above ground. I am very happy that I didn’t let my fear keep me from making the hike that was the highlight of our visit to Arches.

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Henry standing under Delicate Arch
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Petroglyphs at the bottom of the Delicate Arch trail

There were many other arches and formations in Arches National Park that we saw as we toured the park and walked on many short trails.

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Three Gossips at Arches National Park
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Balanced Rock at Arches National Park
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Arches National Park
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Double Arch at Arches National Park
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One of the Elephants on Parade at Arches National Park
Arches National Park Landscape Arch
Arches National Park Landscape Arch

Dead Horse Point was a short drive from our campground in Moab. The view from one of the overlooks provided a spectacular view of the Colorado River and the deep canyon.

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Dead Horse Point State Park

We arrived at Canyonlands National Park just as the afternoon storms were rolling in.

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Rain over Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park (Utah)
Canyonlands National Park (Utah)

Of all the Utah parks we visited, Zion is my favorite. Maybe it’s because we had this view from our campsite beside the Virgin River in the Watchman Campground. Or maybe it’s because our first night we watched the moon rise over Watchman.

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Moon rising over Watchman in Zion National Park

Or maybe it’s my favorite because of the beauty of the park. To hop on the shuttle for a ride through the canyon all we had to do was take a short walk from our campsite to the Visitor’s Center. One day we took Blondie on a four mile hike on the Pa’Rus trail beside the Virgin River. Another day we took a ranger guided shuttle tour through the canyon in the morning and drove through the Zion-Mount Carmel tunnel to the East entrance after lunch. The landscape changed on the other side of the mountain and we discovered a herd of Big Horn Sheep.

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Blondie takes a dip in the Virgin River
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Virgin River in Zion National Park
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Zion National Park
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The Narrows in Zion National Park
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Menu Falls at Zion National Park
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Three Patriarchs in Zion National Park
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Checkerboard Mesa in Zion National Park
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Big Horn Sheep in Zion National Park
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Big Horn Sheep in Zion National Park

Our adventures in Utah continued as we towed our fifth wheel through the Zion-Mount Carmel tunnel to our next destination, Gouldings Lodge and Campground in Utah near Monument Valley which is in the Navajo Nation Reservation in both Arizona and Utah.

John Wayne's Cabin from "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon"
John Wayne’s Cabin at Goulding’s from “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon”
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View of Monument Valley from Goulding’s Lodge and Campground

The elemental effects of nature on the earth are evident all over the state. Water and wind created these magnificent formations on the earth.

To read previous posts about the states featured in this series just click on the state name: Alabama      Alaska      Arizona      Arkansas      California      Colorado     Florida      Georgia      Hawaii        Idaho  Illinois      Indiana      Iowa     Kansas     Kentucky     Louisiana     Maine     Maryland     Massachusetts     Michigan     Minnesota    Mississippi     Missouri     Montana     Nebraska     Nevada      New Hampshire     New Mexico      New York     North Carolina    North Dakota      Ohio     Oklahoma     Oregon     Pennsylvania    South Carolina     South Dakota     Tennessee     Texas

Wandering Around America One State at a Time – South Dakota

State 37:

Welcome to the next post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I hope you will enjoy coming along for the ride!

I will be featuring the states alphabetically. The next state in my series is

South Dakota

South Dakota became the 40th state on November 2, 1889. The Capital is Pierre.

Our travels have taken us through South Dakota a surprising number of times. The Corn Palace in Mitchell and Wall Drug Store in Wall are two fun places to take a travel break along Interstate 90.

Like so many other people, we made the Black Hills our primary travel destination in South Dakota. There is so much to see there we couldn’t do everything we wanted on our first trip so we returned five years later. In addition to the spectacular scenery, the highlights of our visits were Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument, Custer State Park, the wildlife, Deadwood, Wind Cave National Park and Badlands National Park.

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Mount Rushmore National Monument
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Crazy Horse Monument in 2006
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Crazy Horse Monument in the summer of 2011
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Five years after our first trip to the Black Hills, we camped at Game Lodge Campground in Custer State Park. We loved being close to so much wildlife.

Custer State Park is home to herds of Bison, also known as American Buffalo. Many can be seen from the scenic Wildlife Loop Road. Some also like to hang out in other parts of the park and we often saw them near the Game Lodge Campground. There were many calves when we were there in early June. As we drove through the park and on the drive through Wind Cave National Park we saw bison, pronghorn antelope, prairie dogs wild burros, and even white tail deer. This collage of the bison and other wildlife we saw in and around Custer State Park shows just a small sample of the wildlife that is there.

Just driving through the Black Hills is an adventure and there are several scenic drives to enjoy. Iron Mountain Road and the Needles Highway are both narrow, steep, curvy roads with single lane tunnels. There were spectacular views from the Mount Coolidge Overlook at the end of another narrow road. Another day the views were spectacular as we drove through Spearfish Canyon but I forgot my camera that day!

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Along the Needles Highway in Custer Sate Park
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Eye of the Needle on the Needles Highway
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Needle Tunnel
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Mount Rushmore from one of the tunnels on Iron Mountain Road
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View of Crazy Horse Monument from the top of the Coolidge Overlook in Custer State Park

Deadwood is famous for being the town where Wild Bill Hickok was shot by Jack McCoy in the Number 10 Saloon in 1876. In the new Number 10 Saloon visitors can see a reenactment of the shooting of Wild Bill and there are reenactments in the street with gunslingers. We took the drive to his grave in the nearby Mount Moriah Cemetery.

We discovered a couple of delightful campgrounds outside of the Black Hills during our South Dakota journeys. The owners are hard working and helpful at the Belvidere East KOA. Blondie enjoyed the dog park and we loved the Indian Tacos at their restaurant. The sunset was great, too.

Sunset at Belvidere East Campground
Sunset at Belvidere East Campground

Mina Lake State Recreation area near Aberdeen was a perfect place to chill after our time in the Black Hills. The park was practically empty and the camp hosts were friendly and helpful. They even brought us some pheasant appetizers one evening.

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Mina Lake State Recreation area near Aberdeen

To read previous posts about the states featured in this series just click on the state name: Alabama      Alaska      Arizona      Arkansas      California      Colorado     Florida      Georgia      Hawaii        Idaho  Illinois      Indiana      Iowa     Kansas     Kentucky     Louisiana     Maine     Maryland     Massachusetts     Michigan     Minnesota    Mississippi     Missouri     Montana     Nebraska     Nevada      New Hampshire     New Mexico      New York     North Carolina    North Dakota      Ohio     Oklahoma     Oregon     Pennsylvania    South Carolina

Wandering Around America One State at a Time – Montana

State 24:

Welcome to the next post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I hope you will enjoy coming along for the ride!

I will be featuring the states alphabetically. The next state is

Montana

Montana became the 41st state on November 8, 1889. The capital is Helena.

We visited Glacier National Park in 2006 on our very first cross country RV trip. The National Park had just opened back up after a wildfire when we arrived at Johnson’s RV Park.  The smell of smoke was heavy in the air and many firefighters were still in the area. Our campsite sat on top of a hill overlooking St. Mary’s Lake.

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St. Mary’s Lake

Driving from the eastern entrance of Glacier National Park to the western entrance in West Glacier on the 55 mile long steep and curvy Going to the Sun Road was the highlight of our visit. After wandering around West Glacier we turned around and returned to St. Mary the same way we came. We also enjoyed exploring the St. Mary side of Glacier.

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Glacier National Park, Montana
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Glacier National Park, Montana
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Glacier National Park, Montana
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Glacier National Park, Montana

The next year we traveled to Montana again, this time to visit the Little Big Horn National Monument near Hardin. While we were in the area we made a day trip to Big Horn Canyon.

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Montana
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Montana
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Little Bighorn Battlefield
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Bighorn Canyon

Earlier in that same trip we had gone through snow storms in Minnesota so we kept an eye out the weather after we left Hardin. We made a quick overnight stop in Garrison, Montana. Everything was fine when we went to sleep that night. The next day we woke up to several inches of snow. We were headed west with more snow moving towards us from the east so we skedaddled out of there as fast as we could and arrived safely at our next destination in Washington.

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After the storm in Garrison, Montana

Several years later we enjoyed spectacular scenery as we traveled through Montana on the way to Alaska. We spent a night at Cardwell Store and Campground and three nights in Great Falls before crossing into Alberta, Canada about 120 miles north of Great Falls.

Mountains in the distance in Cardwell, Montana
Mountains in the distance in Cardwell, Montana
Our Lady of the Rockies overlooking Butte, MT
Our Lady of the Rockies overlooking Butte, MT
Snow on the mountains between  Butte and Great Falls
It was snowing over the mountains between Butte and Great Falls

In Great Falls we took care of some business and stocked up on supplies before continuing north to Canada and Alaska. We also got to do a little sightseeing.

Statue honoring Lewis and Clark at the Visitor's Center
Statue honoring Lewis and Clark at the Visitor’s Center
Rainbow Falls
Rainbow Falls and Dam

On our way home from Alaska two and a half months later we spent two more nights in Montana as we traveled east towards Georgia.

A Bear cub with fish in our campsite in St. Regis, Montana
A Bear cub with fish in our campsite in St. Regis, Montana
Montana Sunrise
Montana Sunrise at Camp Three Forks

To read previous posts about the states featured in this series just click on the state name: Alabama      Alaska      Arizona      Arkansas      California      Colorado     Florida      Georgia      Hawaii        Idaho  Illinois      Indiana      Iowa     Kansas     Kentucky     Louisiana     Maine     Maryland     Massachusetts     Michigan     Minnesota    Mississippi     Missouri